Sunderman Director James Day discusses a Conservatory education and the liberal arts on podcast

Students looking to pursue music in a conservatory setting, interwoven with the rich experience of a liberal arts and sciences education, need look no further than the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College. This undergraduate experience educates students with a deep passion for using music to make an impact.

Conservatory Director and Associate Prof. of Music James Day felt this deep passion himself when he chose to pursue a career in music. On a recent episode of the Contrabass Conversations podcast, Day spoke about his personal drive, advice for prospective Conservatory students, and the value of a Sunderman education. He was joined by fellow music educator Trevor Jones, a Gettysburg native and founder of the Scholarship Roadmap, a music school preparation program.

Sunderman Conservatory Director James Day
Sunderman Conservatory Director James Day

During the podcast, Day noted that his early years as a music student instilled in him a sense of determination and a drive to think critically about the larger impact of the craft—a drive which he sees reflected in the Sunderman Conservatory community.

“We always had to understand why we were doing what we’re doing,” Day said. “We all seek to do this at Sunderman Conservatory. It’s about developing music citizenry, because we’re all citizens of this world. … So, we have to understand the significance of what we're doing and the place it has in the world [and] the potential impact of every one of those choices.”

At the Conservatory, Day added that he encourages his students to explore their curiosities and to shape their academic experience around their aspirations. The liberal arts framework, he says, plays a part in allowing students academic freedom.

“I’m inspired every day by the ingenuity of our students that really drive[s] our programs,” Day said. “At Gettysburg, [the liberal arts and Conservatory are] so deeply integrated you really can’t tell where one starts or the other begins.”

For students looking to study music at Gettysburg, Day advises reaching out to the Conservatory early to become familiar with the programs, prepare for an audition, and receive guidance on the trajectory of a music education and future career.

“Share with us your interests and your passions, that way we can we can have that conversation early on about the choices you have at Gettysburg, and the merits of auditioning,” he said.

The Sunderman Conservatory offers a music minor and three bachelor’s degrees—a Bachelor of Music Education, Music in Performance, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. Students may be awarded one of the two primary merit-based scholarships from the Conservatory upon auditioning, including the F. William Sunderman Scholarship and the Parker B. Wagnild Scholarship.

A member of the National Association of Schools of Music, the Conservatory offers a rigorous educational experience for musicians looking to hone skills across disciplines. Students receive comprehensive training by exceptional faculty in addition to performance opportunities, guest lectures, and residencies with renowned musicians.

Listen to the podcast to learn more about an education at the Sunderman Conservatory.

By Phoebe Doscher ’22
Photos by Shawna Sherrell
Posted: 08/14/20